If your next-door neighbors were blasting music at 4 a.m., would you say something? Probably. If they were throwing a rager and people were peeing on your lawn? Definitely.
But what if you were hearing a violent domestic dispute? Not sure? You’re not alone.
The South African group People Opposing Women Abuse put together this brilliant PSA (above), which contrasted a neighborhood’s reaction to a loud drummer and its reaction to a loud (and ostensibly violent) married couple.
According to the Guardian, even the folks who did the experiment were shocked:
We weren’t sure what was going to happen. We were astonished. People complained about the drums within minutes. We played the sound of domestic violence three times and there was nothing.
It’s a horrendous sound—we really took it over the top. We were hiding in the house and thought somebody would come with a gun, but they just looked away. It was a real eye-opener. I think nobody really believes that someone dies in a domestic argument.
Actively interfering in sexual harassment and domestic abuse seems to be an odd blind spot in our society. As Gwen puts it over at Sociological Images,
We put violence between partners into a different, less serious category than, say, a fist fight between strangers at a bar, an unwillingness to intervene in what many think of as a private family matter, and fear about our own safety if we get involved or call authorities.
And Maya from Feministing admits to her own lack of action:
I once sat in a subway station in Manhattan late at night and watched a man try to get a sobbing, drunk woman to leave with him. I hesitated, not sure what to do. A few minutes later the police arrived; someone had acted, but it wasn’t me. Just last week, I saw a man aggressively slap a woman’s butt as she walked past in my neighborhood. I looked the other way, and she didn’t say anything either. I ignore sexual harassment—directed at me or others—pretty much every day.
So readers, what’s your take? Would you have interfered? (Or are you just telling yourself that to make yourself feel better?)
Let us know.